ANL 31.50 Decreased By ▼ -0.29 (-0.91%)
ASC 18.90 Decreased By ▼ -0.83 (-4.21%)
ASL 26.27 Decreased By ▼ -0.13 (-0.49%)
AVN 91.95 Decreased By ▼ -0.05 (-0.05%)
BOP 8.30 Decreased By ▼ -0.06 (-0.72%)
BYCO 12.85 Increased By ▲ 0.06 (0.47%)
DGKC 127.20 Increased By ▲ 0.10 (0.08%)
EPCL 47.90 Decreased By ▼ -0.86 (-1.76%)
FCCL 24.18 Increased By ▲ 0.12 (0.5%)
FFBL 26.55 Increased By ▲ 0.25 (0.95%)
FFL 17.80 No Change ▼ 0.00 (0%)
HASCOL 11.32 Decreased By ▼ -1.01 (-8.19%)
HUBC 80.25 Decreased By ▼ -0.75 (-0.93%)
HUMNL 9.12 Increased By ▲ 0.36 (4.11%)
JSCL 23.40 Decreased By ▼ -0.93 (-3.82%)
KAPCO 43.07 Decreased By ▼ -0.18 (-0.42%)
KEL 4.30 Decreased By ▼ -0.21 (-4.66%)
LOTCHEM 15.99 Increased By ▲ 0.19 (1.2%)
MLCF 48.75 Increased By ▲ 0.10 (0.21%)
PAEL 35.40 Decreased By ▼ -0.40 (-1.12%)
PIBTL 11.96 Increased By ▲ 0.75 (6.69%)
POWER 10.20 Decreased By ▼ -0.16 (-1.54%)
PPL 90.49 Decreased By ▼ -0.66 (-0.72%)
PRL 26.15 Increased By ▲ 0.50 (1.95%)
PTC 13.00 Decreased By ▼ -0.01 (-0.08%)
SILK 1.84 Increased By ▲ 0.18 (10.84%)
SNGP 47.58 Decreased By ▼ -0.77 (-1.59%)
TRG 164.60 Decreased By ▼ -0.90 (-0.54%)
UNITY 44.75 Decreased By ▼ -2.35 (-4.99%)
WTL 4.14 Increased By ▲ 0.22 (5.61%)
BR100 5,278 Decreased By ▼ -22.7 (-0.43%)
BR30 27,522 Decreased By ▼ -167.85 (-0.61%)
KSE100 48,239 Decreased By ▼ -195.99 (-0.4%)
KSE30 19,426 Decreased By ▼ -94.82 (-0.49%)
World

North Korean defector numbers plunge amid pandemic

  • "It looks like the number of (North Korean) people entering the South decreased due to the effects of North Korean-Chinese border control and restrictions of movement from third countries due to Covid-19," Seoul's unification ministry said in a statement.
20 Jan 2021

SEOUL: The number of North Koreans defecting to the South plummeted last year after Pyongyang closed its border in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, Seoul's unification ministry said Wednesday.

The figure has been on a steady decline for some time but slumped to just 229 last year, the ministry said, far below the 1,047 of 2019.

The vast majority of Northern defectors first travel to neighbouring China, sometimes staying there for years before making their way on to the South via third countries, and only a handful directly cross the Demilitarized Zone that divides the peninsula.

But the North has a ramshackle health system that would struggle to cope with a major disease outbreak and imposed a strict border closure last January to try to protect itself from the virus that first emerged in China, its key ally.

The North has not confirmed a single case of Covid-19 -- although experts have long said it is unlikely to have escaped the pandemic -- and in September the commander of US forces in the South said Pyongyang had issued shoot-to-kill orders in its border areas to prevent the virus entering the country.

"It looks like the number of (North Korean) people entering the South decreased due to the effects of North Korean-Chinese border control and restrictions of movement from third countries due to Covid-19," Seoul's unification ministry said in a statement.

Inter-Korean relations have been in a deep freeze following the collapse of a summit in Hanoi between Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump in 2019 over what the nuclear-armed North would be willing to give up in exchange for a loosening of sanctions.